Updated on 11/03/2013 12:25AM

Breeders' Cup Distaff: Beholder makes it look easy

Justin N. Lane
Beholder wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff by 4 1/4 lengths under Gary Stevens. Defending champion Royal Delta finished fourth and Princess of Sylmar sixth.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Beholder and jockey Gary Stevens turned a race billed as one of the most evenly contested of Breeders’ Cup 2013 into a tour de force.

Beholder crushed the $2 million BC Distaff by 4 1/4 lengths, humbling a top-class field Friday at Santa Anita. Her rivals never really showed up.

The favorite, Royal Delta, a two-time Distaff winner, was left reeling. She finished fourth, beaten more than eight lengths. “She just didn’t run,” Royal Delta’s jockey, Mike Smith, said. “When I asked her, there was nothing there.”

Princess of Sylmar, a winner of four straight Grade 1 races, stumbled at the break and never made a move. She finished sixth.

Close Hatches rallied to second. Authenticity, the surprise pacesetter, held third. The 4-5-6 finishers were Royal Delta, Street Girl, and Princess of Sylmar.

[BREEDERS' CUP FRIDAY: Video replays and race results]

The star of the show, and of BC Friday, was Beholder. Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Beholder ($7.60 third choice) defeated the field with a three-wide trip and gave 50-year-old unretired jockey Stevens his ninth Breeders’ Cup win and his first since he rode War Chant to victory in the 2000 BC Mile.

Although it was expected that either Royal Delta or Beholder would make the lead in the Distaff, it was Authenticity who broke running and set the pace inside. Royal Delta was lapped to her outside, with Beholder three wide just off their flank.

Nearing the three-eighths pole, Beholder loomed outside Royal Delta. A two-time champion, Royal Delta offered no response and merely went one-paced to the wire.

Even on the first turn, Smith figured that he might be in trouble with Royal Delta. “She switched leads, and she didn’t take off. I thought maybe they were going too quick,” Smith said.

They weren’t. Royal Delta dropped away into the far turn as Beholder and Stevens loomed up three wide. Stevens sat motionless, even as Beholder entered the stretch and began to widen her lead.

At that point, it was over. Rosario, riding Close Hatches, thought for a moment he could catch the winner. “That horse hit another gear; she didn’t stop,” Rosario said.

Beholder kept her record perfect in Santa Anita routes – 5 for 5. The 3-year-old filly has won 8 of 12 and has improved since early in the year.

At the Kentucky Oaks in May, Beholder lost her composure going to the gate and finished second to Princess of Sylmar. But after a summer off and repeated schooling, Beholder has turned into a consummate pro.

Her works leading into the Distaff were sensational, and she ran accordingly. She pressed the pace racing in the clear. It was the perfect spot, Stevens said.

“I had a smile on my face going into the first turn,” Stevens said. “She listened to what I wanted to do and the lessons she has been taught.”

Stevens kept her forwardly placed, in the clear. “She has always had natural speed, but we have always tried to teach her to relax and finish,” Mandella said.

Good thing, because Beholder has learned to harness her speed and also provide a finishing kick. On the far turn, Stevens sensed victory. “My filly was traveling so easily,” he said.

The opening half-mile was in 46.30 seconds, and into the far turn, Stevens let her move up outside. Authenticity was under pressure through six furlongs in 1:10.28. Beholder opened up into the lane and was gone. The final time was 1:47.77.

Beholder is expected to race next year at 4. Beholder’s owner, Hughes, cracked, “If I can get a trainer, I’ll do it.”

Stevens, who returned this season from a seven-year hiatus from riding, said, “If Beholder is going to stay in training as a 4-year-old, Gary Stevens will be here, too.”

Close Hatches is expected to run next year, and so is Princess of Sylmar. Plans were not immediately announced for Royal Delta, but her disappointing effort suggests she may be ready for her second career as a broodmare.

Authenticity and Street Girl are scheduled to be sold in upcoming broodmare auctions.

$2 exacta (5-3), $42.60
$1 trifecta (5-3-2), $87.80
10-cent super (5-3-2-4), $21.99
$2 double (8-5), $53
$1 pick three (12-8-5), $160
50-cent pick four (4-12-8-5), $403.90
$2 pick six (6 of 6) (5-7-4-12-8-5), $106,839.80
$2 pick six (5 of 6) (5-7-4-12-8-5), $1,128.80

Anthony Guererro More than 1 year ago
Once again it to bad that no one respects the fact that before Gary Stevens there was Garrett Gomez not to still the spot light away from Beholder but these owners need to know that loyaty brings character and carma at the same time where addiction is and issue will never understand but where is your loyalty Mr Spendtheftfarm or B.WaneHughes. P.S. To understand addiction is to take one day at a time so stop being so critical Mr BWayaneHuges we all no what happen to OJ Simpson Ok take it easy on poor little Garrett We all deserve a fair chance.
Anthony Guererro More than 1 year ago
I will never forget the beautiful rides that GoGo gave this wonderful fiilly here to you Garrett Gomez don"t ever give up on your hope and dreams you will never no what the future brings
Big Lemmer More than 1 year ago
Reminds me of Rachael Alexandra's HOY Award, they ducked Zenyata and still won HOY. No guts, but very clever, Zenyata would have buried Rachael Alexandra. Kudos to the connections of POS for not ducking a challenge.
Rich Blaho More than 1 year ago
The only horse to duck horses in 2009 was Zenyatta. 1. Zenyatta did not race once on the east coast where the the better horses were. 2. She had a chance but opted to scratch out of a race derby weekend due to an off track. 3. Other than the Breeders Cup Classic (which the best dirt horses did not have a chance do to the Pro Ride Surface) who did she beat in 2009? What did Rachael do in 2009? 1. Demolished her division. 2. Beat the boys in the 3 Grade1's. 3. Took her show on the road and won on 7 different race tracks winning both on fast and off tracks! I love Zenyatta and what she was as a race horse and what she did for this game. But also respect Rachael and what she did in 2009 because we may never see it again and was a very worthy HOY!
Katie1227 More than 1 year ago
I'm totally with Rich here. I really love Zenyatta too, but Rachel took way more risk and had a way bigger season, harder, more challenging. She was done after the Woodward, she had worked hard enough. Look at Princess of Sylmar, they wanted to let her rest after the Beldame, but they still ran her in the BC and she was too tired of her year to fire in any way. In the Classic, the ones who were the closest to Zenyatta were turf horses and Summer Bird who never fire on synthetic (if I remember correctly I don't think he ever won anything on synthetic).
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Beholder is the reason why the PoS connections ran in the BC Distaff abd their worst nightmare came to pass. If PoS hadn't come abd Beholder romped liked she did, there are voters who would have penalized her for ducking Championship Day. Authenticity was in effect a rabbit yesterday, but Beholder has matured to the point where she's now push button vis a vis need the lead.....I say split the Eclipse. Both are deserving.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
I'm not always right but when I am, 4NJBETS doubles my wager!
Roy Roy More than 1 year ago
Joyce Selan More than 1 year ago
Princess of Sylmar went to her knees at the start. I took a picture of the starting gate as they broke and she's on her knees. When you're in a fast field and you get a bad break on a speed-favoring track, you're not gonna recover. You know she' s better than that. Beholder winning the 3-yr old division just doesn't feel right. Does winning the Distaff compare to winning the KY Oaks, CCA Oaks, Alabama and Beldame all together. Remember last year Questing tanked in the Ladies Classic and they still gave her the Championship...it's not over for Princess of Sylmar. She should still be 3-yr old champ.
Jacques More than 1 year ago
Here's hoping the owners are serious about keeping these two fillies in training next year. Can't wait for another Beautiful Pleasure-Riboletta or Megahertz-Dublino type rivalry to shape up. It should be fun, as long as the owners don't spend the whole year having the girls avoid each other.
Roy Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
All the people who are putting Beholder as the 3 y/o champion filly are the same misguided people who put Zenyatta as HOY her final walkover-laden year despite Blame's dominant campaign and beating her heads up in the Classic. Princess of Sylmar had the better campaign regardless of today's race. Facing Beholder on her home speed biased track should not lose her the Eclipse. As for the Beholder excuse in Kentucky, she lost fair and square on an unbiased track. Using her temperment as a crutch is ridiculous.
B More than 1 year ago
I love Princess Of Sylmar and she has a great resume but this is not a slam dunk either way. Beholder's defeat in the Kentucky Oaks was narrow despite a trip that was not without issues. Winning the Distaff in dominating fashion counts for quite a bit. I honestly would have to think it through before I could say one way or the other who is the more deserving. As for Zenyatta I agree that Blame probably had a better total year in 2010 although his head victory in the Classic on his home track was not totally definitive. I believe the vote was mostly a backlash because Zenyaatta was an all time great who was many lengths better than Rachel Alexandra and was unjustly denied HOY in the prior season. This despite the fact that Rachel (while brilliant in restricted 3YO races) was clearly not in her league.
Roy Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
Blame also won at Pimlico and Saratoga in addition to his home track. Can't even remember any of the horses Zenyatta beat in 2010.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
ITA. That's why Zenyatta is the no. 1 female of all time. Rachael is 5. Credit should go to all the top ten for all their achievements.
Declan More than 1 year ago
Roy, do you realize that no one other than you and about five other people on Earth outside of the breeding industry even remember (or care) who Blame was? Get over it.
Roy Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
Better chance of people knowing Blame than the mares that Zenyatta beat that year.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Her winning that race was only a surprise to those that don't know what they're doing.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
For 1, Princess of Sylmar is no doubt 3yo champ filly regardless of her result in the Distaff. 2. Obviously P.O.S did not run her race as quite of few did not, that Santa Anita track is terrible. 3. Zenyatta, regardless of losing to Blame, made up double digit lengths to fall inches short in her final race of her career and showed that she could adjust to a surface that she was uncomfortable on. 4. Blame , a very good horse, but he also got beat that year to.... 5. You are right that if Beholder is being thought of being 3yo champ filly is Midguided.....
Roy Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
Doesn't matter if Zenyatta lost by two inches or 200 feet, she lost heads up.
BigAfan More than 1 year ago
Totally agree POS gets my vote for HOY !
Jacques More than 1 year ago
Love Princess of Sylmar and the campaign she has put together this year. Really glad her connections shipped her out, that kind of sporting behavior is great for the game. As far as who should get best 3 year old filly: As someone else pointed out below, while Princess of Sylmar and Beholder have 4 Grade 1s apiece, Sylmar's came over a bunch of different tracks, whereas Beholder's were all at Santa Anita. That for me would make my vote break toward Sylmar. Also, these animals are not machines. Even the great ones are gonna throw clunkers now and again. Remember Secretariat's no-excuses-apparent Woodward, and any number of less controversial examples. I think it's wrong to base the Eclipse Award on one race, and I hope the voters don't do that in this division this year.